A/N: Written for Round 2 of the Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition Season 4. I'm Chaser 2 of the Caerphilly Catapults.
My team's prompt was to write about Ancient Runes. My position's prompt was to write about someone trying to master (an aspect or the entirety of) our team's subject.
My optional prompts were: 4. (picture) images.8tracks cover/i/009/284/113/tumblr_nrauxnmSE51sojkzpo1_ ?rect=50,0,400,400&q=98&fm=jpg&fit=max, 6. (song) "Check Yes, Juliet" by We The Kings, and 13. (word) "articulate."
Run, baby, run, don't ever look back.
They'll tear us apart if you give them the chance.
Don't sell your heart, don't say we're not meant to be—
Run, baby, run, forever we'll be you and me.
-We the Kings, "Check Yes, Juliet"
Hermione sighed, idly stirring milk into the cup of tea that Ginny had brought up to the fifth floor of the Burrow for her earlier. It was a hot August evening, barely two months after the Battle of Hogwarts, and a just a few weeks before she would lreturn to Hogwarts to complete her seventh year. Ginny would be going with her, but for the first time ever, Harry and Ron would not. Hermione had come up to Ron's room hours earlier—just after lunch—seeking a quiet place where she could concentrate. She was sitting at the small desk crammed under Ron's windowsill, trying to absorb something—anything—from her Ancient Runes textbook. Spellman's Syllabary sat open beside Professor Dumbledore's copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard at her elbow.
It's too easy, she thought, skimming the passages from Beedle that she had long since translated and memorized. It shouldn't be this easy.
Now she flipped page after page of the syllabary, looking for something new, or something that she had forgotten—anything that she could focus on learning or relearning. Finally, she found a chapter that looked new and abandoned her lukewarm tea again to dive into this new vat of knowledge. However, moments later she recognized a translation example on the opposing page, slammed the book shut with a noise of frustration, and put her head down on her arms.
Was she really supposed to just go back to school, after all that had happened? She had been away so long that she felt like she'd forgotten how to be a student—forgotten how to take lessons, do homework, write papers, and study for exams. She felt like it had all slipped away from her; none of it seemed particularly important anymore. Perhaps that was why Harry and Ron had turned down Professor McGonagall's offer of readmission. Was she an idiot for accepting it?
She had woken up this morning at dawn, her mind suddenly full of worries about Runes, and she had decided to dig out her dictionary and set to work in an anxious frenzy. This was not because she remembered less of it than anything else; as a matter of fact, she had spent so much time puzzling out Beedle the Bard that she had become something of an expert, but the feeling that she had fallen behind persisted. She felt as though there was some hidden meaning, something lurking just beyond her comprehension that she couldn't process.
She held her eyes shut, trying to breathe deeply. Suddenly, a sharp tap at the window made her panic—she had fallen asleep; it was too late to study Ancient Runes at all, because the stupid bird that regularly tapped on her bedroom window was back, which meant she was home, which meant she should be going to Hogwarts soon, which meant she might be late and how was she supposed to get there without a flying Ford Anglia and Harry and Ron to help her—
She jerked her head up as another sharp tap at the window made her jump. She peered outside, but there was nothing that she could see which might have caused the tapping. Perhaps she was going mad, she reasoned, and the idea seemed to have merit until a movement caught her eye, and a third projectile tapped the glass. She watched the pebble bounce off the window and away. Unable to curb her curiosity, she opened the window and leaned over the sill to see what could possibly be throwing rocks five stories up.
"Watch out!" she heard, and ducked just in time for another pebble to soar past her head.
"Ron!" she yelled, "You stop that right now!"
Ron was hovering on his broomstick a few meters above the ground, staring up at her. "Sorry, Hermione," he said, looking truly penitent, and she realized how angry she must have sounded.
"I'm sorry," she said, "I'm just…I'm working."
"On what?" he asked, "Come on, Hermione, you've been up there all day."
"And I'll come down when I'm finished!" she snapped, and before he could say anything else, she slammed the window shut and turned back to Spellman's Syllabary.
She stubbornly kept her eyes on the text, though she couldn't pretend she was really reading it anymore, because three or four more rocks came tapping at the window. She groaned and rubbed her temples where she was developing a headache, but eventually the tapping stopped, and it seemed like Ron had given up.
Hermione luxuriated in the silence just long enough to start to regret that she'd been so harsh to Ron, when the tapping started again, more quickly and persistently, as though it really were a bird tapping on the glass. She looked up in irritation, and almost fell off her chair in fright. Ron was hovering just on the other side of his own window, tapping on the glass. He smiled sheepishly and waggled his fingers at her.
Allowing a small smile to creep onto her face, she opened the window.
"Merlin, you're grumpy today," he said, his beaming smile taking away the bite of the words.
She laughed. "I'm sorry," she said again.
"Nah, it's all right," he said dismissively, "What are you working on, anyway?"
"On…" Hermione started, then fell silent again. How was she supposed to articulate the fear that gripped her?
Seeing her face fall, Ron said, "It doesn't really matter. Don't worry about it."
Hermione smiled for a moment, then said, "I thought you were playing Quidditch with Harry?"
"I was," Ron replied, "until Ginny finished helping Mum." He made a face, and Hermione gave him a knowing smile. He was doing his best to accept Harry and Ginny as a couple again, but it was no easy task. "Anyway, I was going to ask if you wanted to go up to Stoatshead Hill with me to watch the sunset."
Hermione looked to the sky beyond Ron's hovering broomstick, to find that the sun had indeed sunk low over the hills around Ottery St. Catchpole.
"I'm not leaving until you say you'll come," Ron said after a moment.
"I'd love to," she said, and at once, she felt some of the fear that had held her captive all afternoon begin to dissipate. "Meet you downstairs."
"Wait!" Ron's protest caught her almost at the door of his room, "You don't have to go all the way down there. Come on!" He gestured for her to come towards him.
"What, out the window?" she asked incredulously, "Are you mad? Of course not!"
"Come on," he pleaded, gesturing again, "Look, I'll count to three, and you jump out the window, and I'll catch—"
"No. No! No, Ron. I'm not jumping out a window. I'll meet you at the front door, or I'm not coming." Before Ron could argue further, she marched out of his room towards the rickety staircase.
She was grinning by the time she met Ron at the door and climbed up behind him, putting her arms around his waist and setting her chin on his shoulder.
"I would have caught you," Ron grumbled after several minutes of flying, almost too quietly for Hermione to hear.
She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek. "I know you would have."
We're flying through the night,
we're flying through the night,
way up high.
The view from here is getting better with you by my side.
Run, baby, run…forever we'll be you and me."
-We the Kings, "Check Yes, Juliet"